A year from now, Reseda will either be a whole lot better or a whole lot worse, but it will not be the same.
Q. What makes you think Reseda is in a position to improve?
A. Reseda has some real advantages. We are one of the most heavily traveled areas on the grid of Valley streets. On Sherman Way and Reseda Boulevard, we average about 86,000 cars per day.
And Reseda is a very interesting community. We have approximately 27 different ethnic groups represented here, and about 67 different dialects are spoken. A lot of people who have come into this country from other countries start off their businesses here.
We have a Business Watch, which we just started in November. In our newsletter, we already cover four languages: Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and English.
There is a lot of resistance to these changes. A lot of the older community remembers how it was years ago. It was suburbia. This was your typical white, middle-class suburb. They want to go back to that. We have to say: "Wake up, that is gone. You have to start working with what you have here."
That's why we talk a lot about working with the people who live here, and that's why I stress that ethnic diversity is a plus. It's very intentional because we need to break down those barriers.
Q. \o7 What is Renew Reseda doing?
\f7 A. We are trying to involve the community. We are going to be sending out a survey to the business community, and later to homeowners, asking input on establishing a theme for Reseda and asking what their major problems are.
Once the theme evolves, we are thinking of trying to get a unification of colors to dissipate the visual clutter.
We are also putting together some grant requests. We are working with city officials. One way you attract business is by giving them an incentive, a game plan, a purpose to come into a community. So we are looking into options of tax incentives or low-interest loans to start a businesses here.
Q. \o7 Will it require an initial large investment of public money to bring new businesses into Reseda?
\f7 A. I can't give you the specifics on that honestly right now. We have got some new (street) medians going in, and we are looking at lighting. We may want to change the lighting to an older-style, lower-profile lighting.
The magic of Reseda is that many places like this would take a fortune to turn around because they are so huge. Reseda is relatively small. The city can test an idea here a lot more cost effectively than other places.
Q. \o7 Some of the past efforts to improve Reseda, such as the Interim Control Ordinance, have been aimed at keeping out certain businesses, like pawnshops and pool halls. Are you afraid that some of these revitalization efforts might actually discourage redevelopment?
\f7 A. That's a concern of mine. You don't want to stifle businesses that can make a living here, but we also want to attract other businesses into the area. I think we can do both.
The problem is really that a lot of the businesses are not maintaining themselves. There is nothing inherently wrong with thrift shops or pawnshops, as long as they keep up their buildings.
Q. \o7 What kinds of new businesses do you think Reseda could attract?
\f7 A. It depends on the theme. We could have a row of outlet stores, factory outlet stores, for example.
Food stores are doing well in Reseda. Ethnic food stores are doing very well. We might try to have a whole area where people drive for miles just to get a certain food that you can't get anywhere else.
Q. \o7 What will happen if nothing is done to revitalize Reseda?\f7
A. In five years? Reseda now would look like Beverly Hills compared to what it would be then. The people who have real estate investments here will lose, big time.
'Reseda was steadily going downhill . . . Then, all of a sudden we are at the epicenter of this massive earthquake. That's forced a lot of the landlords and the businesses that are currently here to make a decision. . . . We are at a crossroads.'